C.S. Lewis on Sanctification and Self-Help

Now is the time of year when blogs, podcasts, and books are seeking women who want things to change.  Theological problems necessarily arise because most of that content masquerades as Christian but is more accurately classified as self-help talk show jargon a la Dr. Phil.

And need I bring up the ever-contentious issue of self-care? Oh, that loathsome term that has tripped up many a Christian woman seeking to honor Christ.

Instead of self-help, we need the rescue and redemption that comes only from the triune God. If we are determined to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, or are resolved to perk up by spending more time having coffee dates with our iPhone, I dare say we have strayed too far.

Let C.S. Lewis reset our view of the work of God in our lives:

“The Christian way is different:  harder, and easier.  Christ says “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked — the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”  Mere Christianity, pg 196-197

It becomes much easier to cut through the sentimental claptrap marketed to Christian women when one remembers what God is doing.  He is not intent on modifying my behavior.  He is intent on recreating my whole being.  He is less interested in how much time I have to myself than he is refashioning my very desires.  He dismisses my efforts to make myself feel better and instead tears me up from the very root and plants me afresh, because until a grain of wheat experiences death, it cannot experience life.

This is the Christian pattern:  First death, then life.  He died in order that I might live.  His crucifixion first, my justification second.  And as a result, death to self = life to those around me.

I wrote here about the humble habits I am focusing on for 2018. I stole the phrase from Mystie at Simply Convivial, who never confuses self-help with sanctification.  She is hosting a 6-week workshop on habits. It starts January 5th and will be well worth your time (and mine).